Gays With Kids talked with gay dads Robert and Chris and their three kids Justin, Ethan and Parker about their active lifestyle. (You might recognize this family from a #GWKThenAndNow article back in February.)
Gays With Kids: How important is it for your family to be active?
Robert: It very important for us to be active for multiple reasons. We do try to live a healthier lifestyle. We aren't neurotic about it – we eat donuts and candy – but we try to balance everything with activity. In addition to that, one of the dads and one of the kids have ADHD. A great deal of research suggests that activity is one of the most effective ways to manage this. So two of us really benefit from activity! I consider myself an adventurous person and I try to teach my sons the benefits of trying new things. I love that motto, “Collect experiences, not things."
Gays With Kids: What kind of sports and activities does your family enjoy?
Robert: For me, to participate in sports and activities, they need to be fun and interesting. So for fun activities we as a family skate together, some of us run together, and we are huge hikers and campers. I also have a competitive side so competitive sports are good for me. The boys like to join me in some of these. My middle is a great 5K runner for a 10-year-old and my 12-year-old has joined me on my adult Ultimate Frisbee team. All of the adults we play with and against have been extremely impressed with his skill level for a kid. The boys really love swimming. We are so lucky here in Oregon to have access to lakes and rivers all over the place. And the ocean is only an hour away!
Chris is more of a gentle observer when it comes to activities. He would consider shopping an activity. But in an effort to be a good example, he joined a gym recently and has been dedicated to getting some good cardio daily.
Gays With Kids: Describe a typical camping adventure for your family.
Robert: It would start with loading up the truck with every possible thing we can think of to bring. The dads in the front, kids in the back, and dogs in the way back. We are so fortunate here in Oregon that camping is so close; if you want to be remote it, it's relatively easy. Camping usually last for us anywhere from three to seven days. Honestly, we don't shower or sometimes even change out of our swim shorts for most of it. Camping is a time to relax, let it all hang out and do what feels right. Eat when you want, sleep when you want, play when you want!
We like to camp near water mostly because of our kids' and our dogs' love of swimming. We typically have three tents: one for the dads, one for two kids and one for the other boy and the dogs. (He talks in his sleep; he would keep everyone in the tent awake!) Chris is an amazing cook, even with just a campfire, so we eat well when camping. Our favorite lake has wooden rafts built on tree logs and you can row them around the lake with tree branches or paddles. The boys and dogs can do this all day long. Our youngest just got a fishing pole. He has been trying but hasn't caught anything yet. Chris has agrees to cook for him anything he catches so he is excited for more camping trips.
Gays With Kids: What is the most rewarding thing about seeing your kids enjoy being outdoors and active?
Robert: The most rewarding is seeing your children having fun being active and you know that you are doing this parenting thing right. I love when a kid is exhausted, and full of good healthy food and crashes into a deep sleep. One time when camping my son said to me, “Dad, this is the best day ever." I thought so too. That was pretty special.
Extreme frisbee family
Gays With Kids: Do you have any advice to share with other dads trying to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle with their kids?
Robert: Most kids want to play and have fun, they just need to be pointed in the right direction. For example, when I see one of my kids throwing a ball in the house, I tell them to go outside and throw it higher. Take kids to a park, they will go play; take them to a river, they will go play; take them to an open area and give them a ball, they will play. I stay active and healthy just trying to keep up with them.
Also, we as parents must help our kids find a balance between technology and activity. We make our boys turn off electronic devices on the weekends after a few hours and go outside. If they don't want to, I tell them that I will be doing chores inside and if they stay they are going to help! On weeknights we make sure that everything is done before we use technology. So homework, chores, reading and baths are all done before a kid asks to get on Youtube or TV or use their iPods. It usually means they get tech the last hour or so of their days. So it's about finding a balance.
Robert rock climbing with Parker
Gays With Kids: We have a couple of questions for Justin, Ethan and Parker: What's your favorite outdoor activity or sport?
Justin: Ultimate [frisbee] and shooting hoops. I used to play soccer and baseball but I don't right now.
Ethan: Frisbee, running, skating, hiking and throwing rocks in the pond.
Parker: Riding bikes.
Chris with the boys as they explore the seaside
Gays With Kids: And what's your favorite outdoor activity or sport to do with your dads?
Justin: My dad and I play ultimate together and we practice a lot. We also go on longboard rides sometimes.
Ethan: We like to go on runs together and do parkour. We hike mountains too and name them if we are the first ones to ever get to the top. I like it when he takes us to the skate park and we ride our bikes up the really steep hills. Sometimes I can make it all the way to the top but, yeah, sometimes I crash or just roll back down.
Parker: I likes to go on bike rides and to the ocean with my dads.
Answers have been edited for clarity.
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